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The Name Game

When I was a Cambridge undergraduate, I was in the same yeargroup and at the same college as this guy. Mind you, in the year below us at Clare there were two Andrew Smiths.

Samuel Pepys finds himself in a slightly more extreme situation, having dinner with no less than four Richard Brownes, three of whom were knighted and thus Sir Richard Browne.

Tell me, does this ever happen to you?


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 13th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
A certain university managed to pay my redundancy money to another person with the same name as me who had worked as a postdoc in a completely different department for a year, and had been gone for a couple of years before I left the staff.

Edited at 2008-06-14 09:47 am (UTC)
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
well when i was in College there was a guy with a similar (gary) name, that joined the Society i was president of. Luckily he didn't show up to meetings or things might have got confusing.

Also Recently i was promoted from the Same Panel as someone with the same similar name, so far i have been on one training course with him (the trainer had the same first name as him, and the same family name of another course attendee) I will probably end up going on at least one more course this year with the guy who has the same name as myself!

Of course i do have one of the Common Family names, luckily the version of my name i have is not to Common In Ireland....
Jun. 14th, 2008 06:17 am (UTC)
I actually have two different people in my address book whose first name is Paul and surname the same as yours. One is an Irish ambassador, the other a Sinn Fein activist in Derry!
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)

I know two other people with my surname. One is my father, who I haven't seen for decades. And one is my ex-wife, from whom I split over two decades ago, and who I have understandably not had that much contact with.

In fact, good grief, it's about time she gave me the surname back.

My mother returned to her maiden name when my father married The Evil Stepmother (who had the same first names) nearly thirty years ago. And my sisters were married the same year I did the first time.
Jun. 14th, 2008 06:33 am (UTC)
Of course, you crop up at various periods of Irish history!
Jun. 14th, 2008 08:45 am (UTC)
Frequently with my first name too.
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
I took a government-run summer course to learn French at the University of Ottawa the year before I started university; partway through they sent me a very nasty letter telling me I owed them $3000 or something like that, and if I didn't pay they'd kick me off the campus and not give me the credit I was earning.

It took a ridiculously long time to get it across that as a nineteen-year old recent high school graduate, I probably hadn't racked up tuition fees going back five years at their university. What a hassle that was.
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
I've met four Stuart Halls - the It's A Knockout one, the leftie cultural historian, a promising young racing driver, and the CFO at my workplace.

There were two Steve Davises in my year at university, although one was a "ph" and one was a "v".

Jun. 14th, 2008 06:30 am (UTC)
Back in the days when I played postal diplomacy, there were three or four Steve Joneses active in the hobby...
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
At high school there were two girls with the same name who were both in my English class (and a set of identical twins). It made for an interesting experience when work was being handed back.
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
My husband has the same name as a former Democratic senator who also happens to be on the Disney board of directors.

We were staying at Walt Disney World once a couple of years ago, and we got a lovely note left in our room from the president of the resort expressing the their willingness to do anything that would help make our stay more pleasant. We thought, "Odd, but you know Disney's over the top service."

The next morning we were woken up by a phone call asking for Senator Mitchell. My sleepy husband said, "Yes?" whereupon the voice on the other end demanded to know who he was. It took a few minutes to explain the mixup -- it turned out that Senator Mitchell was staying at the same resort as we were for a board meeting.

We thought about continuing the little charade (maybe we'd have gotten a lovely gift basket!), but instead we took the resort president's note down to the front desk and explained.
Jun. 14th, 2008 06:27 am (UTC)
Great story - and of course with my background I am well aware of the other George Mitchell!
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
Hey.. unrelatedness : I played this game & thought of you http://www.addictinggames.com/globegame.html enjoy ^-^
Jun. 14th, 2008 07:01 am (UTC)
I share my name with a charming, elderly and somewhat technically illterate Scottish poetess. At one point we used the same ISP, and I had the username <myname>@ISP. Her user ID turned out to be <myname>1@ISP, but she didn't see the point of the '1' so used to give all her chums my e-mail address as her contact details instead.

Initially I thought I was getting rather odd spam, then realisation dawned. I eventually found out her address and started forwarding the e-mails to her, and replying to people to let them know her correct e-mail address. I gather I freaked her out as for a while she thought her subconscious was talking to her via e-mail.

On the way through I discovered the curious yournotme.com which would tell you how many other people in the UK shared your name. The site seems to be dead now. Shame.

Edited at 2008-06-14 07:02 am (UTC)
Jun. 14th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC)
Oh and of course I met deborah_c twice and carried on tandem friendships with them for about a year due to Cambridge user ID confusion (our IDs had one digit difference, which could be easily confused via bad handwriting, so e-mails sent to the wrong person got forwarded between us and chatting broke out) and not realising that they were also the person going out with one of my friends in college who I regularly chatted with in RL.
Jun. 14th, 2008 07:12 am (UTC)
There is a nun in Boston with whom I share a name, who has been running a children's charity for years. I forward email occasionally.
Jun. 14th, 2008 07:23 am (UTC)
Nope, but what I get is:

1. People mistaking me for someone named Kelly. This began in junior high, when another brown-haired girl who wore glasses was in the same year as me. We both were referred to by each other's names for well over a year before we finally met, and throughout high school I became so accustomed to people getting my name wrong that when I was in a Spanish class with a *different* Kelly, I kept answering when she was called on. This continued outside of school when at a job people, for some inexplicable reason, kept thinking my name was Kelly, and in fact only last year (to my huge amusement) a note that was meant to go to author Kelly Armstrong came to me. Presumably she got mine. The editor in question was very embarrassed, but I thought it was really funny.

2. People I don't know walk up to me and resume conversations they've obviously been having with someone else. I stare at them in bewilderment and eventually, as I fail to answer, they become increasingly uncomfortable, finally give me a good hard look, and say things like, "Oh, God! You're not Michelle!" and run away. This has been happening since I was nine, and apparently looked sufficiently like the best friend of a girl who'd just moved from, er, somewhere in the Lower 48 to my home town, that when I went to her birthday party, her mother opened the door, stared in astonishment at the little girl standing alone on the porch, and said, "Bonnie?!?" Apparently I look like everybody. :)
Jun. 14th, 2008 07:30 am (UTC)
When I worked for the Bank of Ireland I found myself working at one stage with three Yvonnes, two of whom were surnamed Duffy. And Irish SF Fandom seemed to find itself with a plethora, or indeed a pestilence, of people forenamed James - Bacon, Brophy, Mason, Peart and Shields.
Jun. 14th, 2008 08:03 am (UTC)
There are three other women with my real name who are active online, and I find the confusion of people who try to google me very amusing.

One is an extreme shoe-collecting fashionista and ASP programmer who lives in California. One is a mouth-breathing conservative from New Jersey who mostly gets her name in the press by writing letters to on and offline publications which call for the death penalty for shoplifters. The third is an oft-quoted Australian educational specialist.
Jun. 14th, 2008 08:25 am (UTC)
There was another me in my year at UCL. I know because his name was already crossed off when I went to enrol but I never actually (knowingly) met him. His middle name must have been earlier in the alphabet than mine because he got the standard firstname.lastnight email address and I got the inferior initial.initial.lastname one.

However, I got there first on Gmail which means I get quite a bit of email for an Australian who likes cycling and swimming and lives in Victoria.

And then there is the money saving expert...
Jun. 14th, 2008 08:48 am (UTC)
Not surnames, but when I was at Cambridge, there were no fewer than six Mikes on assorted student committees in my college (not including me). So they decided that this was ridiculous and they would refer to them all by their middle names -- but it turned out that all six were called Michael John, so this didn't really help much.
Jun. 14th, 2008 09:12 am (UTC)
Nope. One of the few virtues of my parents giving me a relatively uncommon name, and then spelling it in a stupid way. But when I tried to find my brother's wish list, and wedding registry site, I discovered that "Jeff Quinn" is an extremely common name in Canada.
Jun. 14th, 2008 10:18 am (UTC)
There was another student at Imperial with my name, who turned out to also be a grad student in the department of biology. She was a PhD biochemist, and I got a lot of email inviting me to demonstrate undergraduate practicals before we worked it out and started forwarding things on to each other. I got more of her emails than she got of mine, despite being second to arrive and getting the email with the 1 on the end.
Jun. 14th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
Not exactly. Though in a more Catch-22 situation, when my father was in the military he knew both a Major Major and a Major Minor.
Jun. 15th, 2008 11:02 am (UTC)
Some years ago, when I was more active in Cambridge LibDems than I am now, the secretary was also called Rachel Coleman, though she came to her surname by marriage. (I believe she's now divorced and moved away.) I met her in person on the way to the great anti-war march in 2003.

When I was at New Hall, there was another Rachel in the same year. In the first year she was doing natsci with 25% compsci and I was doing standard physical natsci, so I was physics-Rachel and she was compsci-Rachel. By our third year, I was doing the Part II (General) compsci, and she was doing Part II physics, so now I was compsci-Rachel and she was physics-Rachel. Just for confusion.

My friend Helen and I both did Part II (General) and were supervised together for all subjects, as the only New Hall students doing the course. We were of similar height, weight and hair colour and it was clear from end-of-term reports that at least some of our supervisors had us mixed up.
Jun. 15th, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)
Nah, my name is quite unusual, but then again on Facebook, there is another girl with my name in the Midlands, with pink hair. No idea if there's any relation there!
Jun. 16th, 2008 11:51 am (UTC)

Nobody else afaik has my name, not even with the English version of the surname. One of my nieces and one of slovobooks have the same first name so there could be some confusion down the road. My niece will probably use the English version more, though, since her father does.
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